Tips to Minimize Holiday StressDecember 4, 2020
This past weekend, my family put up our holiday decorations. This picture is my oldest daughter, topping our living room tree with a star. We definitely deck our house from floor to ceiling as this is our family’s most favorite time of the year.
While putting up the wreath on our front door, I heard some choice words coming from our master bedroom. Rushing to make sure my small children’s ears were out of harms way, I found my husband putting up one of our Christmas trees that had several sections of lights that were not working. (Yes, you read correctly, we have multiple Christmas trees up in the Bobos house.) While he was checking all of the fuses on that tree, he was becoming beyond frustrated. Needless-to-day, we made a trip to the store to replace the tree.
Why do these joyous times, such as decorating your home for the holidays, end up being a stress fest?
Although, we definitely like our decorating day to go problem free, our reactions are often heightened due to other underlining stress. We can all agree that this year is off the charts with creating additional stress in our lives. The year of 2020 has been filled with additional financial strains, navigating eLearning with children, politics, sicknesses, cities at unrest, our neighborhood businesses and restaurants closing . . . the list could go on and on. And now, we add the additional stress that comes with the holidays: purchasing gifts, not being able to be with family like previous years, altering annual traditions, and missing loved ones.
While we cannot make our problems disappear, boy do I wish that I had that magic wand, we can take some simple steps to ease the stress to make the season as happy as possible. Let’s focus on what we CAN control.
Boy oh boy, poor sleep patterns really can mess with you! Lack of sleep effects your memory, heart health, body weight, skin, immunity, and mood. My favorite tool is the Bedtime feature on the clock app of my iPhone. If you haven’t explored this app, you need to give it a whirl. I am reminded every night when to start closing up for the night. My screen lighting changes as well as silences notifications. It is set with an alarm in the morning to gently wake me, not with an abrupt alarm. It really has been life-changing for me!
Research shows that even a minimum of 15-20 minutes a day has health and wellness benefits. Individuals who carve out 25 minutes a day have had measurable changes in the brain and stress levels. For me, I have noticed that when I take this time to meditate, I react better to situations that normally would cause me to get upset. I am able to really put things in perspective and breathe, which control my heart rate and blood pressure, both associated with our breathing patterns. As we know, high blood pressure is not good for our heart health.
3) ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION
With three small children and all the stress Covid has brought, this has been a challenging one for me. Yes, I do love a glass of wine (or two) at night, and I am definitely a more pleasant person with my coffee. Coffee and wine have many health benefits, but that “moderation” word is key. Too much alcohol and caffeine will effect your sleep, especially if consumed later in the day. It also can heighten feelings of anxiety. Try to stick to one cup of coffee a day and limit wine to one glass a night or perhaps not even every night. Trust me, this hits home personally to me.
When I would teach yoga, I would tell my clients to recognize and release the outside distractions that would pop into their heads during their practice. I love those two words. They are powerful: Recognize and Release. Recognize what is clouding your judgement and mind. Recognize what is heightening your feelings of anxiety. Recognize when you are feeling angry or letting unimportant things get to you. Now release them. Breathe. Realize, what is the worst that can happen. Realize that they are feelings. Replace those feelings with good thoughts. Perhaps you can make a list of those good thoughts and blessings in your life, so you can refer to them when feeling under pressure.
As silly as it sounds, movement is good for the mind. When you exercise, the body releases endorphins while it decreases the stress hormones, like cortisol. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and when released during exercise, they trigger a positive feeling and naturally boost your mood. Aside from endorphins, exercise also releases other hormones like adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones work together to make you feel good and positive. Endorphins, along with serotonin and dopamine, are known as happiness hormones.